Bloggers National Security Threat!

Bloggers National Security Threat! Bloggers are one of the threats to national security being factored into a cyber attack war game.

It’s the government’s idea of a really bad day: Washington’s Metro trains shut down. Seaport computers in New York go dark. Bloggers reveal locations of railcars with hazardous materials. Airport control towers are disrupted in Philadelphia and Chicago. Overseas, a mysterious liquid is found on London’s subway.

And that’s just for starters.

Those incidents were among dozens of detailed, mock disasters confronting officials rapid-fire in the U.S. government’s biggest-ever “Cyber Storm” war game, according to hundreds of pages of heavily censored files obtained by The Associated Press. The Homeland Security Department ran the exercise to test the nation’s hacker defenses, with help from the State Department, Pentagon, Justice Department, CIA, National Security Agency and others.

The laundry list of fictional catastrophes — which include hundreds of people on “No Fly” lists suddenly arriving at airport ticket counters — is significant because it suggests what kind of real-world trouble keeps people in the White House awake at night.

Imagined villains include hackers, bloggers and even reporters. After mock electronic attacks overwhelmed computers at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, an unspecified “major news network” airing reports about the attackers refused to reveal its sources to the government. Other simulated reporters were duped into spreading “believable but misleading” information that worsened fallout by confusing the public and financial markets, according to the government’s files.

Let me get this straight:

  • The AP is publishing cyber-security planning scenarios, thus making it easy for the enemy to know what’s not being planned for.
  • The major papers are routinely publishing reports on highly classified documents.
  • Bureaucrats and Congressmen who are losing turf battles leak state secrets all the time.

And it’s bloggers that they’re worried about?

FILED UNDER: Blogosphere, Congress, National Security, Terrorism, , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Dave Schuler says:

    Of course they’re worried about bloggers. Why buy the cow…?

  2. FireWolf says:

    Well James, they have to have someone to pin it on don’t they?

    They can’t go after MSM, so it might as well be bloggers.

    We’re opinionated, we’re vocal, and gosh darn it Gov’t Types just hate us.


  3. yetanotherjohn says:

    It actually makes sense to me. Think about how various memes get taken up in the blogosphere. Is it so hard to believe that you could never see a false meme started. Imagine your own site being hacked, directing people to go somewhere a bomb was going to go off.

    At one time, a few phone calls could shut down a news story (for good or ill). Now, the gate keeper function s gone. While that is a good thing in peace time, is it really so hard to imagine it being a potential problem in war time?

  4. RWB says:

    “The AP is publishing cyber-security planning scenarios, thus making it easy for the enemy to know what’s not being planned for.”

    As I have said before – until we win the war on terror ALL news (blogs) should be passed through governement censors to be sure we do not give terrorists any usefull intelligence. We cannot afford the first ammendment when lives are on the line.

  5. chaos says:

    Like I said at InMuscatine, you guys are misrepresenting this story.

    Blogs could very well be used as part of a concerted effort to spread panic through financial markets and/or the general public through misinformation, and this exercise was intended to help prepare government officials for that possibility.

  6. Bill Quick says:

    We cannot afford the first ammendment when lives are on the line.

    Nice troll, there, RWB.

  7. Jim says:

    We cannot afford the first ammendment when lives are on the line.

    Posted by RWB | January 31, 2008 | 12:10 pm

    RWB couldn’t have that more bass-ackwarkd if he tried.

    Lives are to be placed on the line in order that we preserve and defend The Constiution.

    Were not our Founder’s signatures on the Delcaration of Independence signed under the phrase: “With our Lives and Sacred Honor” ? Or was that just hyperbole on their part?

    Oh, and that whole American Revolution thing, you know, where thousands of lives were not only put on the line, put paid in blood, and that in full measure, that our God given rights and freedoms might be secured.

    Lives on the line, you say. And of what worth does the trifle of a sentiment like yours make the many hundreds of thousands of lives already given in defense of our freedoms and our Constituion in lo, these past 235 years, hmmm?

    RWB, enjoy your chains; may they rest easy upon your weak, pathetic shoulders.

    Sloop New Dawn
    Galveston, TX

  8. RWB says:


    Things are different in a post 9/11 world

  9. JKB says:

    Look if you get all these bloggers “spreading “believable but misleading” information…” then who will believe the “believable but misleading” information the government or other powers that be put out. Bureaucrats hate competition. Look what bloggers did to Dan Rather over the TX NG letters? That was some perfectly good believable but misleading information that went to waste before it could have the desired effect.

    The thing is that if you only read the internet for 5 minutes, you may be mislead. But if you read it for 15 minutes, you’ll find that the misleading information gets poked, prodded and debunked pretty quickly. Unlike getting the bureaucrats to admit they mislead the public which takes decades.

  10. Dave Schuler says:

    Jim, before wrapping yourself in the flag holding a copy of the Constitution in defense of the polity as established by the Founding Fathers, you might want to take a gander at the Alien and Sedition Acts, enacted by a number of those same Founding Fathers.

    The Espionage Act of 1917 might prove interesting reading, too.

    I’m not supporting the wholesale abrogation of rights but I also think it’s important we keep things in proportion. Abolutist positions on both sides of this discussion are simply not moored in the facts.

  11. Old Grouch says:

    This goes right along with the Department of Homeland Security pushing “guidelines” for private ownership and use of things like geiger counters and air quality monitors. [Village Voice coverage here.]

    Because if you leave the tools for self-defense in the hands of the citizens, well, who knows what they might do?

  12. Cri says:

    Things are different in a post 9/11 world

    No. The Founders didn’t write a document that could be folded up and ignored when convenient. It’s stood the test of time, and was written by men far more sophisticated and intelligent than the morons that pass for political leaders these days.

    Give them some credit for knowing the human spirit better than the leaders of today.

  13. BSRules says:

    Sounds like more “Rules” we Must live by…

    Or maybe its,

    we Must Die by…